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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

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Br MAX EASTMAN 

■HJOVMENT O? POETRY 



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CHILD 
OF THE AMAZONS 

AND OTHER POEMS 
MAX EASTMAN 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 



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The Jmazons, according to a fable not without his- 
toric significance, tvere a tribe of female warriors tvho 
dtvelt upon the river Thermodon, near the Euxine Sea. 
Annually, to perpetuate their race, they joined the men 
of a fighting nation upon Mount Caucasus; but of the 
offspring of these unions they saved only the girls. Their 
patron deity was the virgin Artemis, who is here identi- 
fied with a star visible at dawn. Their queen, Penthe- 
tilea, was slain by Achilles in the fight at Troy, 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 
I 

WHEN in the orient the alnugfaty sun 
Swings up his burning shield, and brandishes 
A shaft of light against the leagued skies. 
When the sea smoketh, and the forest oaks 
Forget the stonn gone over them and tremble 
In the furious rising of the dawn — 
Then join her councillors to counsel warl 
Then throng they out unto the forest old, 
The high and awful chamber of their quera. 
Bringing in sinewy hands their iron spears. 
Her captains — who are women old and wild. 
Homeless, unchaste, worn with the battle anger 
And the weight of weapons swung in heat. 
No mirth, no music, oo barbaric splendor 
Doth explain them, or adorn their pride. 
Scarred and unloved and terrible they are! 
Yet not the C9q;)crienccd earth doth go diro' heaven 
With a more tempered majesty and power, 



. 7 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

TTian they go thro' the verdurous colonnades 
And living aisles of their uncovered temple. 

For where the trees unveil unto the dawn 
A summit old, a windy sanctuary, 
There doth the royal warrior summon them. 
There by her savage altar doth she stand, 
Immense with beauty, like a sexless god> 
Imperial oaks lifting their arms behind her. 
And the East nourishing her limbs with light. 

She, as diey come, doth lift her voice to them 
In high and ardent music: 

'O ye powers, 
Free-clad, armed like the sun with javelins I 
Deeds would become you well, so well arrayed I 
Have ye not lingered by this stream enough. 
And paced along the murmurous strand, and dozed, 
And watched this bay yawning beside the sea ? 
O, are yc sick with hunger for events? 
Then ye shall have them I Ye shall ride with mo 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

To the adventure on the plains of Troy, 
Where now the proudest of the oppressors moors 
His ships, and marshals his vainglorious arms. 

To capture that which he could never hold 

The awl rebellious soul of her that scorned himl' 

So her passion sings, and they with arms 
Ring the reply. She lifts a regal spear 
For silence, and she saith: 

'Who would excd 
In war must first excel in government. 
Yet here a very child defies our law: 
That singer, maker of the battle hymns, 
Thyone, whom with every hope we loved — 
Always the fleetest of the dancing girls, - 
Arid strongest when they wrestle in the meadow — 
Even Thyone, out of battle born. 
Doth shirk the enterprise of soldiery I 
And 'tis the common tale — the mind bewitched 
By some high warrior, the body too 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Grows lazy and unmuscular with love I 
Yet never does she lose her spirit bold, 
But dares revolt, and plead against my will, 
That she may have the amazing soldier with her, 
Dwell with him, as do the nations against whom, 
Implacable, wc swing the scourge of war! 
This hour she comes to you to plead, and fed 
Your scorn/ 

She paused ; and to them there appeared. 
Like a swift spirit from the shadowy trees, 
A form as fresh as the remembered winds 
Of dawn— Thyone, called the Sea-wild Maid. 
Upright and young before the queen, she led 
All eyes in silence brief unto her own. 

'I come unarmed into the council. Queen. 
I prayed not to the unlistening star this morn, 
But to a warm God whom I have called Love. 
Love hath disarmnl me.' 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Softly thus she spoke, 
Yet in her voice was more of empire than 
Of love. And for a breath, no answer — till 
The queen, with equal calm, said: 

'We have heard 
How mellow you have grown these Summer days I 
We called you here to sing us a sweet lay. 
We being tired of duty. Will you sing?' 

Her irony the girl dismayed with candor 
When she said, raising her eyes: 

'O Queen, 
To mc the morning is not jubilant 
Tho' all her wander-winged minstrels sing, 
And the sweet insects pipe their joys aloft; 
To me the day is dreary, ^o' bis light 
Flows down around me as of old. — But when 
The wind herds forward many clouds along 
The pastures of die sun, I welcome them; 
And in Ac arms of night my sorrow sleepeth.' 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

"Yea! But come, the story! Tell us thatt 
Unto whose power art thou this listless captive?' 

'I think thou knowest that he is a king.' 

"They say you sit among the meadow grass 
And sing to him — is this thy exercise? 
Thou big and silly child!' 

'Most scornful Queen, 
Not long we sat amid the blossoming grass 
Before the sea rose and came over us, 
And we were drowned, and lay together, still, 
Without breath. — Spake I with a child's voice?' 

'A voice that angers me — the voice of love 
And of a dreamer lost I' 

"Yea, I am lost!' 

'Hast thou no will, no hunger after deeds 
Swift and heroic?* 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

'O my heart is hungry I 
All my life h swift and wild with passion! 
It is a flame carried in the wind!' 

Unto her cry her body gave 
All eloquence ; her gestures seemed to move 
On infinite curves inherited of gods. 
And the dark warriors stirred; but not their queen, 
Who cried: 

'Darest thou at this shrine defy 
Our law, which is the aged word of God? 
Fearest thou not the empire of these armed? 
They call it traitorous to smuggle in 
Outlawed and poisonous thoughts I They know 
Your kind ! Think you this nation has grown great 
Without the trembling public death of traitors? 
Think you we drag our cowards on to glory?' 

Thyone said : 'Am I a coward, in 
That I defy the dreadful laws of God?' 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

'Ay, they are dreadful I' cried the queen, and shook 
Her lofty spear in fury, beautiful. 
'And thou shalt swiftly know their dreadf ulness I 
Ay, thou shalt hear the Law of Ainazom, 
And learn what romance sleepeth on the tune! 
We lie not in the vice, of love! We breed 
At night, at morn we are away to wars I 
O hath thy blood no fiery wish to fight. 
To fly with the light-armed over the plain?' 

'My blood doth burn against the sacrifice, 
To momentary deeds, of passionate 
Lifelong desire, and the deep hopes of love I 
Is this that famous freedom that thy law 
Doth vaunt? O is this liberty, to lose 
For liberty all that the heart desires?' 

'Thou piteous and pleading soldier! Dost 
Thou hope to whirl a spear with lovelorn muscle? 
Thou canst dishonor time with languid talk, 
O Easy-tongue, but thou wilt alter not 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

The wish of God. For I am not thy judge. 
But Artemis, unpassioned, unsubdued. 

' "Have ye the virgin's heart I" — saith Artemis. 
"Needs must ye give your bodies, hostages 
Unto mortality — give not your souls! 
This be the chastity of Amazons I 
Exiled, who forfeits this, and from you scourged, 
Shall seek among tyrannic nations that 
Inactive servitude which ye renounce I" — 

'Thus reads the immortal law; the choice is thine. 
Thou canst find out thy way unto thy lord. 
Succumb to him, thy vigorous spirit all. 
To tend his fire and wipe his fireside gods, 
And be to him the softness of a couch — 
So be he deign thee thy sweet sips of lovel 
Our souls shall drink the flaming wine of deeds I 
And thou not with us? O consult thy heart! 
Consult thy heart, and bring thine answer when 
The light again is swelling in the East!' 



15 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 



II 



In the mild-mannered beauty of the morn, 
When birds sing eastward and their throats are filled 
With song, and in a shrill continual chant 
The little people of the grass profess 
Their wakefulness unto the slumbering earth, 
Then doth the sea her song perpetual 
Relinquish, and lieth down whispering 
Peace to the patient sands, and listeneth. 
On such a morn, and at the gentle hour 
Of opening eyes, Thyonc came unto 
The council, armed, and in her hand the spear. 
Yet as she stept across the grass her feet 
Were languid, and her eyes looked down, lest they 
. Too tearfully reflect the light of dawn. 

Where, O thou soul rebellious, goest thou? 
What potentate hath power o'er thee but joy? 
Hearcst thou not Love wanderir^ forlorn 

16 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Upon the mountain meadows calling thee? 
Hearest thou not the future calling thee? 
Must thy bright hopes expire while they are born, 
As dewdropa scatter at the wink of mom? 

So sings her mind to her the while she moves 
In sorrow, carrying a drooping spear. 
Yet when she comes in sight of them, who stand 
In cruel panoply around their queen. 
Drinking her lust of action, eyeii^ her, 
Holding the solemn jubilee of war — 
Then doth Thyone raise her face to meet 
The morning light, her limbs spring firm with pride. 
And in her eyes the imperial will of God 
Flasheth again, as on her arms his signal 
Gleams. She lifts her spear against the sun, 
And dawns upon that resolute array, 
A victor, and a soul compelling them. 

'O Queen and stormy counsellors of war — 
Unto the temple hall a warrior comcsl 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

I join the music of your concourse wild I 
Yet unto thee, thou sovereign cold, I say 
That I obey, but honor not, thy will. 
Thou art my fate, and with thy iron arm 
Dost point to an intolerable choice. 
A blazed tree upon the forking road 
Thou art; at early morn I pause by thee. 
My tearless eyes sending their sight eastward 
Up to the mountain pastures of our 'love, 
The hills, the water-meadows, and the woods — 
O God in heaven keep them beautiful ! 
O high farewell to you, ye Summer Hours I 
O Romance, idle, sweet, and transitory! 
Yea, I can say a strong farewell to you! 
I'd learned ere now, in the long hour of gloom, 
Your being is to be but vanishing! 
Yet O, beyond you, and beyond the hills. 
There are the regions of the surely blest! 
And travelling onward, I would come like dawn 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Into the land of mothers, where the hours 
Serene and elevated wait for mel 

"Thou, warlike Queen, hast thou ne'er nestled down 
To earth with thy blood singing, and thy limbs 
Oppressed with joy! Hast thou not sobbed with wonder. 
Not known the sudden motion in the night, 
The doubt, the expectancy, the terror beautiful? 
Yea, thou hast known thetnl And thou hast brought 

forth 
A very little body like thine own. 
And touched and loved him for the dimple, and 
The ring of blue between his half-wide lids I 
Yea, thou hast had him torn from thy wild arms 
By these unshakable laws, whereon thou stand'st 
To judge mel O my Queen, I weep for thee, 
Though thou art great, and seasoned against woe I 
Thy character is iron, I cannot 
Shake thee with memories, nor alter thee 
With an incessant quantity of tears 1' 



^9 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Thyonc,' saith the queen, 'thou dost express 
A thing the law knows not, remembers not. 
And thou dost speak to one who hath long since 
Been tempered in the tremulous fires of love. 
And hath all passion borne and burned with it, 
And issued forth as steely and secure 
As the immortals are who fan such flames! 
Therefore I counsel thee to scourge from thee 
These thoughts, and cease thy woeful eloquence, 
And give thy gift of music on the tongue 
To praise and sing the conquerors of fire!' 

To whom, with quick light-giving eyes, the girl 
Replied : 

'With gladness will I sing and praise 
Thy company of soldiers whom I love, 
Whom I have envied since that windy day 
When first they startled me, and set my eyes 
In childhood dancing. I have never lost, 
Even in the slow warm winds of midnight when 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

His voice rcroembered quivered on my ear — 
I've never lost my love for thy battalions] 
Heroic joys they ever offer mc — 
Those visions valorous of my young heart 1 

'O to command the tumult of a troop 
Of battle horses! to possess that space 
That flees like wind before them to the foe! 
To come, with so much thunder at my back, 
Into the fainting noise of a drawn battle — 
Borne on a stallion uncontrollable 
And racing for the lead, to cling to him 
With supple limbs that feel his muscles roll. 
And with free arms to do the flying deeds 
Of cavalry I O God, could I forget 
TTiese glories? — Or the more precarious joy. 
The exuberance of danger, when at night 
I, like the hunting leopard, shall creep fordi 
In softness, and steal in upon my prey 
To capture him, or scout in solitude 
About his barracks I 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

'O I love to livel^ 
The task and the adventure, toil and rest. 
And mirth, and the hot news of accident! 
I love to live, impetuous, for joy 
And woe, a life of action unto God I 
Triumphantly I choose it! I renounce 
My wish of love, my hope, my fruitful yearsl 
For who would be the consort of a king, 
Subduer of the earth, and be subdued? 
Who would bring into this heroic world 
A child, before she had gone forth to prove 
That she herself was equal to the world? 
Too long the heirs of man content themselves 
With a divided portion. I will never 
Be the idle ornament of time, 
Futile and pale and foreign to the earth, 
Nor with a weak and fluent life dilute 
The heritage of those bright heroes who 
Shall yet subdue the world I 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

'I love that law^ 

Artemis, thy seeing law — that saith 
No Amazon shall enter motherhood 

Until she hath performed such deeds, and wrought 
Such impact on the energetic world. 
That thou canst it behold and name her thine. 
Grant me, O Goddess free, that I may burn 
And kindle thro' some drama ere I did 

'O thou divine Intelligence, where thou 
Dost wheel thy silver chariot along 
The dark perimeter of utmost heaven. 
Lean low thine ear to hear my resolution! 
No, give mc power and I will pray to thee 
A prayer that dares ascend, and like a sun 
Or streaming meteor, greet and startle thee! 

1 pray that I shall yet defy thee, thou 
Far Deity, and lay the regal hand 

Of man upon thy law to alter it; 

To herald the far age when men shall cease 

Their tyranny, Amazons their revdt 

23 



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CHILD OF THE AMAZONS 

Renouncing each a sad unnatural dream, 
They shall go forth together to subdue 
Unto their synunetry the monstrous world, 
And with the night lie down in powerful union I 

'Henceforth, my sovereign, perfect is my will 
To do thy deeds and be thy Amazon — 
Though I postpone unto the end my hope. 
For if it is an excellence to bear. 
Then is it a thing prior, more divine. 
To be. I join the counsellors of war.' 



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MISCELLANEOUS POEMS 



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TO A TAWNY THRUSH 

Across our midnight races, 

A moving gleam that quickly ceases, 

Lost in the blue black abyss of heaven, 

So doth thy light and silver singing 

Start and thrill 

The silence round thy piney hill, 

Unto the sober hour a Jewd bringing — 

A mystery — >a strain of rhythm fleeing— 

A vagrant echo winging 

Back to the unuttered theme of being! 



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COMING SPRING 

ICE is marchins down the river, 
Gaily out to seal 
Sunbeams o'er the snow-hills quiver, 
Setting torrents free I 

Yellow are the water-willows. 

Yellow clouds are they. 
Rising where the laden billows 

Swell along their way I 

Arrows of the sun are flying I 

Winter flees the light, 
And his chilly horn is sighing 

All the moisty night 1 

Lovers of the balmy weather, 

Lovers of the sun I 
Drifts and duty melt together — 

Get your labors donel 



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COMING SPRING 

Ice is marching down the river, 

Gaily out to sea ! 
Sing the healthy-hearted ever. 

Spring is liberty 1 



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DAISIES 

DAISIES, daisies, all surprise I 
Open wide your sunny eyesi 
See the linnet on the wing; 
See the crimson feather I 
See the life in every thing, 
Sun, and wind, and weather] 
Shadow of the passer-by, 
Bare-foot skipping over. 
Meadow where the heifers lie, 
Butter-cup, and clover 1 
All is vivid, all is reall 
All is high surprising! 
Ye are pure to see and feel; 
Ye the gift are prizing 
Men and gods would perish fbr — 
Gods with all their thunder! — 
Could they have the thing ye are, 
Everlasting wonder I 



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SUMMER SONG 

I WANDER on the sunny lea, 
Where yellow-birds sing liberty, 
And briar-roses bless the air 
With gracefulness and fragrance rare ; 
The sky is very blue to see, 
A living blue so near to thee. 
And clouds caress the meadow fair. 
Trailing rapid shadows there. 
O come and wander on the lea! 
O wander in the sun with me I 

Ay, thou art with me, gypsy lass, 

Noiseless as the airs that pass; 

Slender as the shadow things 

The rose-vine on the meadow flings. 

Graceful as the wavy grass; 

And tender too, as tender as 

The trembling of the she-bird's wings, 

Whose golden little lover sings. 

A happy soi^ my wand'ring has. 

For thou art with me, gypsy lasst 

33 



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ADVENTURE 

IN dreadfu' jungles I Iia'e never been, 
Nor seen at e'en the tiger's stripes a-glowing; 
But i' the bracken by the purling linn, 
Mine e'en ha'c seen the tiger-lily growing. 



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DIOGENES 

A HUT, and a tree. 
And a hill for mc, 
And a piece of a weedy meadow. 

I'll ask no thing. 
Of God or King, 
But to dear away His shadow. 



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AUTUMN LANDSCAPE 

THE sad light sayeth how all Autumn grieves, 
And how this rainy mist in heaven high 
Doth wake the sorrowings that deepest lie. 
Bdiold the silent forms shorn of their leaves. 
The elm, the maple, and the antique oak — 
With gestures sorrowful they pray the sky. 
Behold the rain-pools where the brown leaves soak, 
And the same mournful branches mirrored lie. 
See how the sensuous mist, cool-smelling, slips 
Like a wilful garment down from those wet limbs 
Which will be gracious to the singing lips 
Of the expected wind! — For he will come! 
I hear him waken as the twilight dims. 
And my heart quickens, and my words are dumb! 



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IN REMEMBRANCE 

COULD I bestow on you all blessings— O, 
As bright and many as the glittering sky 
Of night in his out-reaching arms can hold. 
They would not tell, they would but ache to tell, 
The all-wishing love in sadness of this hour. 
There is but one bright gift, the gift is yours. 
You too can come alone unto these hills, 
The streamy woods and meadows wandering. 
You too can come alone unto these hills. 
And drink, drink from their heart of memory 
The sweetest sorrow that e'er touched the world. 



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SUMMER SUNDAY 

BORNE on the tow lake wind there floats to n 
Out of the distant hill, a sigh of bells, 
Mystic, worshipful, almost unheard, 
As tho' the past should answer me, — and I 
In pagan solitude bow down my head. 



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THE passions of a child attend his dreams. 
He lives, loves, hopes, remembers, is forlorn, 
For legendary creatures, whom he deems 
Not too unreal — until one golden morn 
The gracious, all-awaking sun shines in 
Upon his tranquil pillow, and his eyes 
Are touched, and opened greatly, and begin 
To drink reality with rich surprise. 

1 loved the impetuous souls of ancient story — 
Heroic characters, kings, queens, whose wills 
Like empires rose, achieved, and fell, in glory. 
I was a child — until the radiant dawn. 
Thy beauty, woke me. O thy spirit fills 
The stature of those heroes, they are gone I 



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TO A MEADOW LARK 

WHEN the enkindling spring upon the lea 
Was quenched with water, and the rainy throng 
Of clouds perpetual had drowned her song — 
Still thou didst lift thy heart and float to me, 
Over the mist, thy lonely melody 1 
O swell again the throat, and thrill the tongue, 
And rouse, and ravish with thy passion young, 
The adoring air that drinks thine ecstasy! 
She hides her beauty in the wavy shroud 
Of April's swift and half -translucent cloud — . 
My love is lost in a more heavy shadow! 
My love is buried in the arms of grief 1 
O send to her across the mourning meadow 
That brighter sorrow thine — that music brief! 



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TO AN EARLY RISER 

THE eastern hill hath scarce unveiled his head. 
And the deliberate sky hath but begun 
To meditate upon a future sun, 
When thou dost rise from thy impatient bed. 
Thy morning prayer unto the stars is said. 
And not unlike a child, the penance done 
Of sleep, thou goest to thy serious fun, 
Exuberant — yet with a whisper tread ! 

And when that lord doth to the woild appear, 
The jovial sun, he leans on his old hill. 
And levels forth to thee a golden smile — 
Thee in his garden, where each warming year 
Thou toilest in all joy with him, to fill 
And flood the soil with Summer for a while. 



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TO THE LITTLE BED AT NIGHT 

GOOD-NIGHT, little bed, with your patient white 
pillow, 

Your light little spread, and your blanket of yellowl 
I wonder what leaves you so pensive to-night — 
The breezes arc tender, the stars are so bright, 
1 should think you would wrinkle a little and smile. 
And be happy to think we can sleep for a while! 
Are you waiting for something? Or are you just seeming 
To listen so breathlessly, hushed, as though dreaming 
A form that is fresher than breezes of light, 
A coming more precious than stars to the night. 
Who shall mould you as soft as the breast of a billow. 
And crown with all beauty your patient white pillow? 
Good-night, little bed — are you lonely so late? 
We will lie down together, t<^ther we'll wait. 



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ONE DAY IN THE YEAR 

HOW suddenly the day is wann when Winter yields, 
And Spring blows her first breath over the lonely 
fields! 
The drifts are sinking, 

The soaked earth is drinking 
Their coolness in. 
And all farm sounds beg;in; 
All fowls and cattle their strange praise renew. 
And a more quiet worship wakes in you. 
Have you cried unto memories fleeing so fast? 
This day they will answer you out of the pastl 



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TO THE ASCENDING MOON 

RISE, rise, aerial creature, fill the sky 
With supreme wonder, and the bleak earth wash 
With mystery I Pale, pale enchantress, steer 
Thy flight high up into the purple blue, 
Where faint the stars beholdingi Rain from there 
Thy lucent influence upon this sphere! 

I fear thee, sacred mother of the mad! 
With thy deliberate magic thou of old 
Didst soothe the perplexed brains of idiots whipped. 
And scared, and lacerated for their cure — 
Ay, thou didst Spread the balm of sleep on them, 
Give to their minds a curved emptiness 
Of silence like the heaven thou dwellest in ; 
Yet didst thou also, with thy rayless light. 
Make mad the surest, draw from their smooth beds 
The very sons of Prudence, maniacs 
To wander forth among the bushes, howl 
Abroad like eager wolves, and snatch the airt 
Oft didst thou watch them prowl among the tombs 
Inviolate of the patient dead, toiling 

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TO THE ASCENDING MOON 

In deeds obscure with stealthy ecstasy, 

And thou didst palely peer among them, and 

Expressly shine into their unhinged ^est 

I (ear thee, languid mother of the mad! 

For thou hast still thy alien influence; 

Thou dost sow forth thro' all the fields and hills, 

And in all chambers of the natural earth, 

A difference most strange and luminous. 

This tree, that was the river sycamore, 

Is in thy pensive effluence become 

But the conceived essence of a tree. 

Upright luxuriance thought upon — the stream 

Is liquid timeless motion undefined — 

The world's a gesture dim! Like rapturous thought. 

Which can the rigorous concrete obscure 

Unto annihilation, and create 

Upon the dark a universal vision, 

Thou— even on this bold and local earth, 

The site of the obtruding actual — 

Thou dost erect in awful puritr 

The filmy architecture of all dreams. 



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TO THE ASCENDING MOON 

And they arc perfect. Thou dost shed like li^t 

Perfection, and a vision give to man 

Of things superior to the tough act, 

Existence, and almost co-equals of 

His own unnamed, and free, and infinite wish! 

Phantoms, phantoms of the transfixed mind! 

I fear thee, mother of the sacred mad. 

For thou with beauty dost awake in me 

Such yearning as but God laid hold upon, 

Or mania laying hold, can satisfy. 

Pour down, O moon, upon the listening earth — 
The earth unthinking, thy still eloquence I 
Shine in the children's eyes. They drink thy light. 
And laugh in innocence of sorcery. 
And love thy silver. I laugh not, nor gaze 
With half-dosed eyes upon the awakened night. 
Nay, oft when thou art hailed above the hill, 
I lean not forth, I hide myself in tasks, 
Even to the blunt comfort of routine 
I cling, to drowse my soul against thf charm, 
Yearning for thee, ethereal miracle! 
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EARTH'S NIGHT 



SOMBRE, 
Sombre is the night, the stars' light is dimmed 
With smoky exhalations of the earth. 
Whose ancient voice is lifted on the wind 
In ceaseless elegies and songs of tears. 
O earth, I hear thee mourning for thy dead ! 
Thou art waving the long grass over thy graves I 
Murmuring over all thy resting children, 
That have run and wandered and gone down 
Upon thy bosoifl — Thou wilt mourn for him 
Who looketh now a moment on these stars. 
And in the moving houghs of this dark night 
Heaicth the murmurous sorrow of thy heart. 



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IN A DUNGEON OF RUSSIA 

Scene: A cell leading to the gallows. 
Characters: A noble lady, who is an assassin. 
A common murderer. 

The chilling gray, a ghost of mortal dawn. 

Has touched them, and they know the hour. The guard 

Shifts guiltily his shoes upon the stone; 

They raise their eyes in languid terror. But 

The moment passes, and 'tis Still again — 

Save, in some piteous way she moves her throat. 

There is a wandering of her burning eyes. 

Until they fix, and strangely stare upon 

The face of her companion. They would plead 

Against the heavy horror of his look; 

For not an idiot's corpse could strike the soul 

More sick with wonder. 

'O look up and speak 
To me !' — Her voice is startling to the walls — 
'Speak anjr word against this gloom t' 

He moves 
A blood-deserted eye, but answers not 

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IN A DUNGEON OF RUSSIA 

Tdl if 'twas cold and filthy where you layl' 

'Ay, filthy cold ! Twas cold enough to keep 
The carrion from rotting on these bones! 
They never kill us — never 'til we hangl' 

He spoke a brutal tongue against the gloom. 
And there was heard far o£E a step, a voice. 
The guard stood up; a quiver moved her limbs. 

'Give me some simpler word. Give me your hand 

In comradeship. We die together — and 

The while we breathe — ^we arc each other's world.' 

'No— not your world, my lady! Though we die, 
I have no grace to give a hand to you I 
My hand is thick and dirty — yours is pale!' 

Tfou say "my lady" in the very tomb! 
Will even death not laugh this weakness oS 
Your tongue? To think nobility abides 



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IN A DUNGEON OF RUSSIA 

This hour I My lady I O, it is a curse 

That whips me at the gravel I was not born — 

Can I not even die, a human soul?' 

'Ay, you can die I And better — you can kill I 

Tis not your ladyship — the gallows' rope 

Snjqis that to nothing 1 Death? Not death alone 

Can laugh at your nobility — I laugh 1 

No— not your piteous ladyship— that dies I 

It is your crime that daunts mel — ^That shall live! 

To plant, with this fine delicate little hand. 

Small, heavy death into the very heart 

Of time-defended tyranny — that lives! 

The future is all life for you I For me — 

A glassy look, a yell into the air, 

And I am gonel No life springs up from mel 

I am the dirt that drank the drippings of 

A guilty murder — that is why I sit 

Like sickness here, and goad you with my shamel 

111 take your hand! I'll tell you I was starved, 

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IN A DUNGEON OF RUSSIA 

Wrecked, shattered to the bones with drunken hunger, 

And I killed for gold I I'U tcU you this— 

Your crime shall live to blot the memory 

Of mine, and me, and all the insane tribe 

Of us, who having strength in poverty 

Will not lie down and starve — Hot off the world 

Our having been — the crime of our killed hopes, 

And gradual infamy!' 

The fever gleam 
Was in his eyes — the future! There it burned 
A moment, while he stood to see the door 
Swing darldy open, and the guard salute. 
She stood beside him. And tt^cthcr, in 
High union of their fainting hearts, they faced 
Tile hour that brought them to their level graves. 



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CONVENTIONAL LIFE 

MIDNIGHT is come, 
And thinly in the deepness of the gloom 
Truth rises startle-eyed out of a tomb, 
And wc arc dumb. 

A death-bell tolls, 
And we still shudder round the too smooth bed. 
For Truth makes pallid watch above the dead. 

Freezing our souls I 

But day returns, 
Li|^t and the garish life, and wc arc brave, 
For Truth sinks wanly down into her grave. 

Yet the heart yearns. 



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IN MARCH 

ON a soaked fence-post a little Hue-backed bird, 
Opening her sweet throat, has stirred 
A million music-ripples in the air 
That curl and circle everywhere. 
They break not shallow at my ear. 
But quiver far within. Warm days are near! 



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THE BURIAL OF DE SOTO* 

WOODS and the cry oi wild things and the soli- 
tary starS) 
And no wind on the black river's bosom — 
Save what is stirred by your slow bier 
That I sec moving there, O wanderer! 
And yet there floats to my dim sense the cool new smell 

of the earth about your body. 
Who are they two that hold up smoky flames over the 

envious water? 
Who are they two that stoop, with bending elbows, 
Moving with a prayer, 
And lift you, and lower you again, 
And stand for an eternal moment eyeing the water while 

it grows still, 

And while you waver dimly down to your cool station 

In the oozy floor of that inconstant tomb? 

They snufi their torches in the mute water. 

Gathering to them their reflections, 

And they steal with noiseless paddles toward the trees. 

'Bit p«r*on wai feared by the Indiani, and, in order (Aot 
they thowtd not kmne of hit death, hti body teat «»hvmtd and 
tuttk leeretlg at night into the Miititiippi BiBtr, 



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HAIL TO OCTOBER! 

HAIL to October! Healthy is the air! 
The flying skyl And gay the dying leaves! 
Soulless and free, the winds and waters and the running 

tunes 
Of the brave days of thee, O Autumn! 
Songs, and laughter, and no thought beyond the song ! 
No rest for retrospect, ho hope to harbor fear! 
Only the light and liberty of life, and death, and motion 
Onward uncontrollable, are thine! 
Thou art the wind along the road, the shining trees! 
Thou art the stealthy rustle thro' the forest! 
Thou art the cry of eagles and the shaking of the pine! 
The racing cohort of the northern geese, 
A sounding arrow — 
Thou art the Right of Sunimerl 
The expectancy of Spring! 
The swift uplniilding of a tempest in the sun, the moving 

thunder 
And the flying shadows of the wings of clouds 
Across the purple mountain ! O thou art all distance, and 

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HAIL TO OCTOBER I 

Dim vis^, where the eye grazes and takes sustenance of 

space! 
There arc no bounds for thee, no laws for thee, no sense 

for thee 
But glory in the unutterable and onward sweep of thine 

own being! 



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SONNET 

AS the crag eagle to the zenith's height 
Wings his pursuit in his exalted hour, 
Of her the tempest-reared, whose airy power 
Of plume and passion challenged! his Ri^t 
To that wild altitude where they unite, 
In mutual tumultuous victory 
And the swift sting of nature's ecstasy, 
Their shuddering pinions and their skyward mig^t— 
As they, the strong, to the full height of heaven 
Bear up that joy which to the strong is given, 
Thus, thus do we, whose stormy spirits quiver 
In the bold air of utter liberty. 
Clash equal at our highest, I and thee, 
Unconquered and unconquering forever 1 



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THE SAINT GAUDENS STATUES 

[Exhibited at 1A« Metropolitan liutema after the eeitlptor'* 
death. Th« figvret allmUd to are the itanding itatue of Abra- 
ham Lineoln, and the monument in memory of Mrt. Henry 
Adam*, the original of which it in lh« Boek Creek Cemetery 
at Waihi»gto».] 

POET, thy dreams are grateful to the air 
And the light loves them. Tho' they murmur not. 
Their carven stillness is a music rare, 
And like the song of one whose tongue hath caught 
The clear ethereal essence of his thought. 

I hear the talkers come, the changing throngs 
TTiat with the fashions of a day surround 
Thy visions, and I hear them quell their tongues, 
And hush their querulous shoes upon the ground. 
Thy dreams are with the crown of silence crowned — 

Though they feel not the glowing diadem, 
Who sleep for aye in their cool shapes of stone. 
Nor ever will the sunlight waken them. 
Nor ever will they turn their eyes and moan, 
To think that their brief Poet's life is gone. 

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THE SAINT GAUDENS STATUES 

The tender and the lofty soul is gone, 
Who eyed them forth from darkness, and confessed 
His spirit's motion in unmoving stone. 
His praise upon no mortal tongue doth rest; 
By these unwhispering lips it is expressed. 
Soon will the ample arms of ntght withdraw 
Her shuffling children from the twilit hall — 
From that heroic presence, in dim awe 
Of whom the dark withholds a while her pall. 
And leaves him luminous above them all. 
Then are ye lost in darkness and alone. 
Ye ghostly spirits! And the moment rare 
Doth quicken that too sad and nameless stcme, 
To move her robe, and spill her sable hair, 
And be in silence lost upon the air. 
For she is one with the dim glimmering hour, 
And the white spirits beautiful and still, 
And the veiled memory of the vanished power 
That moulded them, the high and infinite will 
That earth begets and earth doth not fulfil. 
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AT THE AQUARIUM 

SERENE the silver lishes glide, 
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed ! 
As through the aged deeps of ocean, 
They glide with wan and wavy motion! 
They have no pathway where they go. 
They flow like water to and fro. 
They watch with never winting eyes. 
They watch with staring, cold surprise, 
Tlie level people in the air, 
The people peering, peering there, 
Who wander also to and fro. 
And know not why or where they go, 
Yet have a wtmder in their eyes, 
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise. 



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THE THOUGHT OF PROTAGORAS 

MY memory holds a tragic hour to prove. 
Or paint with bleeding stroke, the ancient 
thought 
That will to sorrow move all minds forever — 
All that love to know. It was the hour 
When lamps wink yellow in the winter twilight, 
And the hurriers go home to rest; 
And we whose task was meditation rose 
And wound a murmuring way among the books 
And eiSgtes, the fading fragrance, of 
A vaulted library — a place to me 
Most like a dim vast cavernous brain, that holds 
All the world hath of musty memory 
In sombre convolutions that are dying. 
There at our faithful table every day, 
In the great shadow of this dissolution, 
Wc would speak of things eternal, things 
Divine, that change not. And wc spoke with one 
Who was a leader of the way to them ; 
A man born regal to the realms of thou^t. 

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THE THOUGHT OF PROTAGORAS 

High, pale, and sculptural his brow, 

And high his concourse with the kings of old, 

Plato, and Aristotle, and the Jew — 

The bold, mild Jew who in his pensive chamber 

Fell in love with God. It was of him. 

And that unhungering love of his, he told us; 

And with soft and stately melody, 

The scholar's eloquence, he lifted us 

Sublime above die very motions of 

Our mortal being, and we walked with him 

The heights of meditation like the gods. 

I have no memory surpassing this. 

And yet — strange pity of our natures or 

Of his— there ran a rumor poisonous. 

Scandal breeds her brood in the house of prayer. 

And we, to whom these were like hours of prayer, 

Wc whispered things not all philosophy 

When he was gone. We knew but little where 

He went, or whence he came, but this we knew. 

That there was other love in him than what 



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THE THOUGHT OF PROTAGORAS 

He taught us — love that makes more quickly pale I 

Ay, even he was tortured with the lure 

Of mortal motion in the eyes I And lips 

And limbs that were not warm to him alone 

Were warm to him. He drank mortality. 

Dim care, the ghost of retribution, sat 

In pallor on his brow, and made us whisper 

In the shadow of our meditations. 

Faintly, faintly did we feel the hour 

Advancing — livid painting of a thought! 

He spoke of Substance, — strangely — on that day — 

Eternal, self-cxistent, infinite — 

He seemed, I thought, to rest upon the name. 

And as he spoke there came on me that trance 

Of inattention, when the words would seem 

To drop their magic of containing thin{^ 

And, by a shift, become but things themselves — 

Mere partial motions of the flesh of lips. 

I watched these motions, watched them blandly, till 

I knew I watched them, and that roused me, and 



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OF P 



THE THOUGHT OF PROTAGORAS 

I heard him saying, 'Things, and moving things, 
Are merely modes of but one attribute. 
Of what is infinite in attributes, 

And may be called ' He spoke to there, and then— 

His pencil, the thin pencil, dropped — A crack 

Bdiind us — A quick step among the books — 

His hand, his head, his body all collapsed 

And fell, or settled utterly, before 

The fact came on us — he was shot and killed. 

But little I remember after that. 

What matters it? The deed, the quick red deed 

Was done, and all his speculations vanished 

Like a sound. 



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LEIF ERICSON* 

THRO' the murk of the ocean of history northward 
and far, 
I descry thee, O Sailor! Thy deed like the dive of a 

star 
Doth startle the ages of darkness thro' which it is 

hurled. 
Doth flash, and flare out, and is gone from the eyes of 
the world I 

What watchers beheld thee, and heralding followed thy 

lead, 
Or bugled the nations into the track of thy deed ? 
What continent soundeth thy name, what people thy 

praise? 
Who sendeth the signal of gratitude back to the days 
When thou in thy boat didst put forth from the world, 

and defy 
Infinity, ignorance, tempest, and ocean, and sky? 

* L»ifETici<m,thtNoTieadvmtMrtr, taiUd to Amtriea BOO 
jftar* btfort CoUmbiu, 



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LEIF ERICSON 

No, history brags not of God, nor doth history brag 
Of thee, Sailor, who carried thy sail and thy sea-colored 

flag 
Qear over His seas, drove into His mystery old 
The prow of thy sixty-foot skerry, whose quivering hold 
Could dtp but a cupful out of His watery wrath, 
That stormed thee, and snatched at thy bowsprit, and 

liclced up thy path I 

When mythical rumor sky-carried ran over the earth, 
With the whisper of lands that were dreamed of beyond 

the red birth 
Of the west-wind, the blood of thy body took running 

fire 
To launch and be swift o'er the sea as a man's desire! 

O rare is the northern morning that shineth for thee! 
A million silvering crests on the cold blue sea — 
And the wind drives in from the jubilant sea to the land, 
And, catdiing thy laughter, it tosses the cloak in thy 
. haai. 



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LEIF ERICSON 

As thou goest forth to thy sails in the frosty air, 
Where a thousand press round thee with awe and a won- 
dering prayer. 

And they that stand with thee — tumultuous-hearted they 

stand I 
They bend at thy word — I hear the boat sing on the 

sand — 
And they slip to their oars as the boat leaps aloft on a 

With thee at the windy helm, joyfully brave 1 



The depth of the billows is awful, the depth of the sky 

Is silent as God. Silent the dark on high. 

Naught sings to thy heart save thy heart and the wind, 

the wild giant 
Of ocean, agrin in the darkness, who rattles defiant 
A laugh through thy rigging, and howls from the clouds 

at thee. 
And moans in a mimic of pain and a truculent ^ee] 

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LEIF ERICSON 

Still stem I behold thee, thy stature dim through the 

dark, 
Unmovet^ unreleasing the helm of thy storm-driven 

bark. 
'O God of our fathers, give signs to our sea-worn eyes! 
Give sight to Thy sailors I Give but the sun to arise 
In the morn on an island pale in the haze of the west I 
O beam of the Star in the North, is thy only behest 
To gesture me onward eternally unto no shore 
Of these high and wild waters, famed for their hunger 

of yore? 
Then give to thy sailor for life the courage of death. 
To encounter the taunt of this wind with a rougher 

breath 
Of gigantic contempt in the soul for where and when, 
So it be onward impetuous, living, onward again I 
He saileth safe who saileth with death on board, 
He flieth a laughing sail in the wrath of the Lord I' 
So sang thy heart to thy heart, and so to the swinging sea 
In a lull of the wind, the song of a spirit free I 



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LEIF ERICSON 

Sustained adventurer, lover of distance divine, 
Pursuing thy love forever tho' never thine — 
O sun-tanned king with thy blue eyes over the sea — 
Who hath the living strength to worship thcc? 

Not they that act vcith a sanction, and move by a rule, 
And lean on a theory — theory saveth the fool ! 
He asks for no map of the universe, pointer, and plan, 
Who hears the rough ocean challenge the roughness of 

man 
To the deeps I Who feeleth existence his spirit defy. 
For brief or eternal, standeth not pondering by! 
No, Science shall never sing thee, nor ever they 
Whose cry is Utility — never the kings of to-day I 
The profit of thy great sailing to thee was small; 
And unto the world it was nothing — a man, that was all, 
And his deed like a star, to flame in the dull old sky 
Of the story of apathy, ^e after decorous age going byl 
Grapes were thy import, winey and luscious to eat, 
Grapes, and a story — 'The dew in the west was sweet 1' 



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LEIF ERICSON 

Wine of the distance ever the reddest seems, 

And sweet is the world to the dreamer and doer of 

dreams! 
Weigh them, ye pale-headed merchants — Little ye know! 
Compute, ye desk-dwellers, ye will not measure him so, 
For ye know only knowledge, ye know not the drive of 

the will 
That brought it with passion to birth. It driveth still 
Through the hearts of the kindred of Earth the forward 

fleeing, 
The kin of the stormy soul at the helm of all-being! 
Sailors, unreefed, and high-masted, and wet, and free, 
Who sail in the love of the billows, whose port is the 

They sing thee, O Leif the Lucky, they sing thee sublime. 
And launch with thw, glad as with God, on the ocean 
of time! 



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